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Trip Report elSpike's first Aussie SkiSki Trip 2019

Discussion in 'Falls Creek' started by elSpike, Jun 1, 2019.

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  1. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hi Falls Creekians,

    As is my custom in the Japan forum, this will be the thread for my Trip Report, daily journal, and conversation with likeminded individuals.

    We managed 3 separate trips to Japan this season and after a pretty long week, we made the spur of the moment decision to book a week's skiing at Falls. For those of you who I haven't met in the Japan forums, we live in Singapore and for the past 4 seasons since starting we have only ever skied in Japan.

    We've booked in with Pretty Valley Lodge and will be catching the bus up from Tullamarine after an overnight flight so I think we have most of the major logistics covered. With a month to go before we get snow under the planks, the hype is very real.

    Any tips for first time Australian skiers? We are all solid Intermediate through to early Advanced, and are usually pretty happy with staying on piste with a few darts into the trees at the edges.
     
  2. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    You've chosen well with pretty valley. Great location, great host.

    timing can be important.

    When lessons are on, the queues and runs on towers, drovers, and ruined castle can get busy. Ski these early or at lunch time.

    Icey conditions are not uncommon. If it's one of those days, stick to what was groomed overnight for your first runs. Often the north facing runs get quite soft in the afternoon before getting pretty firm late in the day.

    I think Prett Valley includes lunch but not 100% sue. If you are getting your own lunch, look further than than the immediate slopeside places. 2 really nice spots are Elk and Husky.

    The runs will be short compared to what you are used to but it's still a fun and friendly place to ski.
     
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  3. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for those tips @currawong. A little concerning that the whole blue side of the mountain are the runs that attracted us to Falls! I guess we'll just have to suck up the queues and be even more thankful in Shiga in January. Will be an experience either way, and any day in the snow is better than one that isn't.

    Pretty Valley includes lunch so I suspect we'll pop back there each day considering how convenient it appears to be.
     
  4. Moondog55

    Moondog55 One of Us

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    If staying at PV try and limit yourself to 2 glasses of that Mongrel Port, it has a wicked kick back in the morning. Food at Pretty Valley is generally good, you may put weight on.
     
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  5. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great advice. Sampling the local elixirs is all part of it. Having skied exclusively in Japan previously, we just assumed that putting on weight while skiing was normal. Those daily soft serves and “snack” okonomiyakis have to go somewhere!
     
  6. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    it's just a matter of not going to the worst queues at the worst times. you can often see what a queue will be like from a nearby chair. start your day on the runs that will get bad later, then go elsewhere and/or have a coffee if they get too crowded. summit lift has some blue and easy blacks and normally only gets a long queue if there is good fresh snow. lots of people dislike scotts chair but it accesses a lot of terrain and is rarely crowded

    In any case Falls Creek queues are rarely as bad as popular lifts at the other major Aus resorts
     
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  7. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    I've found the lift queues at falls on the weekend aren't that bad, like Currawong said you can check the lines from the lift and move as nec, [weekend queues are like Buller on a week day :thumbs:] just try to avoid school holidays if you can ;)
     
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  8. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    We’ll only be there Sunday to Friday so avoiding the bulk of the weekend. Can’t avoid the holidays. We’ll be arriving the first Sunday of the Victorian school hole. Thankfully NSW and ACT are a week later!
     
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  9. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    That week can be a bit touch and go for cover. With a bit of luck this early snow will last and get topped up to provide decent skiing. It is unusual for summit and international to be open then, but certainly not unheard of.
    If cover is not good then the plan is clear. Get up early and be on first lift. Maybe only towers, drovers and wombats might be open and lessons can make them very crowded. The lift co will be doing everything possible to get Scotts and Ruined Castle opened as well. Summit will be opened as soon as they can for marketing reasons even if cover is insuffucient for grooming
     
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  10. willsnow

    willsnow Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    I've followed your thread on Shiga Kogen - so have a good grasp of your skiing level. Also, having skied both Shiga Kogen and Falls Creek - I think that if you can manage red runs in Shiga Kogen, you'll be able to manage *ALL runs* on the Sun Valley side of Falls Creek (e.g. Drover's, Tower, Lakeside, Scott, Ruined Castle). All the blue runs in Falls are pretty short and tame (some of them will be considered green in Japan) - so no long cruising runs like from the top of Yakebitaiyama or Okushiga Kogen.

    I personally think you'll enjoy the groomed black runs of Summit chairlift (e.g. The Knolls, Ost Wand, The Slot). They're about the same level of steepness as 'Expert' black run in Okushiga Kogen. For tree runs and ungroomed black runs you usually go to 'The Maze'. Fingers crossed that Summit and International lifts are open when you get there, because the best terrain in Falls Creek are there IMHO.

    Do not ski down Wombat's Ramble. Maybe once just to see what it's all about, but don't risk hitting or being hit by beginners there.

    Be prepared for Australian prices for food and drinks on snow resorts.
     
  11. chriscross

    chriscross One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Lakeside Poma does not usually attract the same queues as the lifts on that side, presumably because there are people who are not comfortable on pomas. Skier's left off the Ruined Castle chair gives access to some interesting terrain on the edge of the patrolled resort area which is often not so crowded.
     
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  12. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    umm, sometimes.
    Lakeside poma can often be more crowded than Towers chair and you need to factor in the extra delays caused by people with no experience in riding a poma. The Towers queue will also move much quicker because it is a quad rather than a single tow. You can look at Lakeside queue from Scotts or Towers before deciding whether to go there. If you take the main run to Lakeside and see the queue is bad, you can still traverse to Towers
     
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  13. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Yeah, I love Lakeside but you need to multiply the queue length by 4 compared to quad chair and factor extra for 'miss loads'.
     
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  14. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Given the fact that they are staying at Pretty Valley this isn't really an option if they want to ski in ski out and enjoy the convenience of their accommodation location.
    Wombat's Ramble is not really that bad. I have never had a real issue on it. Some years when school holidays clash with only one or two lifts/runs open it can be hectic, but most of the time it is manageable.
     
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  15. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us

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    Last Hoot / Fast Hoot > Wombat's Ramble. The only reason I went on Wombat's Ramble was because I was staying at Chorki, and we had ski-in access from Wombat's.
     
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  16. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    I am very aware of Last Hoot/Fast Hoot.... just most years late June it is often marginal at best if it's open.
    Wombat's Ramble is busy but not that bad....I pilot sit skis down it many days of the season.
     
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  17. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    If the queues during your school holiday stay at Falls Creek are long, you can pretty much guarantee they are longer at the other Australian ski resorts on the same day.
    The first week of the school holidays is often not too bad as most people try and book the second week punting on more snow. Ironically the first week can just as often be better skiing than the second.... it's a toss off the coin really.
     
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  18. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great advice thanks @willsnow. Looking at some videos online I think you are right about those three. Fingers crossed that the snow gods deliver between now and then.
     
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  19. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    We're already ahead of the game, as long as it doesn't get warm and wet you can be assured that with snow making and effective grooming this school holidays will be better than average.
     
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  20. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’m getting that feeling from previous trip reports and the banter here!

    It is what it is. We’ll take whatever comes our way. Snow or no snow. Crowds or no crowds. Just super excited to be in Australia and hopefully hear some crows while skiing.
     
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  21. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Skiing amongst the snow gums, crimson rosellas and gang gang cockatoos in the village, wallabies, wombats and lyrebirds on the trip up.... yep skiing in Australia offers some things that can't be found anywhere else.
     
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  22. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Crows? We can do better than that. Crimson rosellas, magpies and currawongs are common. When the maze is open it's not uncommon to hear or see yellow-tailed black cockatoos or gang-gang cockatoos. If you are lucky there may be robins. I even saw a heron one year.
     
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  23. emkae

    emkae One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The first week of VIC school holidays is a lot less crowded than subsequent weeks, as that is when NSW et al have holidays as well
     
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  24. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Now you are showing off!
     
  25. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Maybe

    But it's true. One of the wonderful things about the maze (and sadly it probably won't be open by the time of your visit) is that it is rather quiet and remote and is not unusual to see less common wild life.

    Rosellas, magpies and currawongs are all through the village
     
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  26. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Team, what is the mobile coverage like in Falls village/ski areas? We are just organising which carrier to buy data from. My natural assumption is Telstra, but how's Optus's coverage?
     
  27. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    I use Telstra and it has always had the good coverage in the ski area.
     
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  28. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates One of Us

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    I’ve never had an issue with coverage in or around the village or over the back while skiing.

    I was pulling 70Mb download on Optus last year and about half that for uploading. Haven’t found any blackspots.

    Little no mates are on VHA - no issues there either. Most of your resellers will sell you a cheaper version of these carriers. Have a look at Kogan or Amaysim etc as they will all offer 4G.
     
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  29. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    Telstra tower is on McKay sooo...
     
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  30. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Telstra is good for coverage. optus is said to be ok now after being poor for years. AFAIK vodaphone is still rubbish.

    that's coverage.
    capacity is inadequate in peak times for full features but fine for phone calls and sms.
     
    #30 currawong, Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  31. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks all. Appreciate the quick advice!
     
  32. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    30 June 2019 - Day 1 - travel day

    Today’s report actually started last night in Singapore. We packed our trusty REI Wheely Beast duffels at the last minute and headed to Changi Airport for dinner before our 8pm flight to Melbourne.

    Changi has added Japanese themed hawkers to their public side restaurants above Check-in, which means we didn’t have to go battle Saturday crowds at Jewel. Food was good. Can recommend the Katsu Sandwich and the Tonkatsu Egg ramen at about SGD16 a piece. It wouldn’t be a ski trip for our family without some Japanese food after all.

    A380 on the way down with Qantas. Being cheapskates we didn’t pay for seat selection so we’re left with two pairs a few rows apart. Flight was uneventful aside from some persistently disgruntled baby’s all night and Mr 13 snoring his head off in my ear.

    Landed at T2 about 15 minutes early and we had a remarkably smooth run through immigration and customs (Mr 13 failing the auto gate due to his 5 year old passport photo looking nothing like his current manling face as per usual).

    Going from 31°C to 8°C requires a little bit of adjustment it seems.



    We booked Falls Creek Coaches to take us up to the mountain. They run a 7.30am bus from Melbourne airport that gets in about 12.50pm to the accommodation transfer station. There is a stop at Temple, next to the 7 Creeks Hotel in Euroa (I remember reading something about 30 years ago about Ned Kelly and Euroa. Must remember to look that up) I think the fare was about $80 each way. Driver was a bloke named Colin with a ripper broad Aussie accent and 7 years experience as a ski instructor in Switzerland. What a welcome back to Australia!



    It rained on and off on the drive up. Mostly lowest windscreen wiper setting, but occasionally level 2 was needed.


    Soon rain gave way to snow covered shrubs and gums. So pretty!


    We got dropped off at the ATS, unloaded our luggage and made our way up the hill to Pretty Valley Lodge. We didn’t bother calling Barry and Carol, who had offered to come get our gear, as it wasn’t far and we are all fit and health human beings!

    Check in was available immediately, with Carol showing us around and up to the mighty room 26 which is amusingly both up and down stairs from the lobby!

    The lodge provided lunch was a buffet style with hot and cold options, fresh bread, and some home made muffins. Delicious.

    We then got measured up for the our rental skis (we Singapore dwellers have no room for gear) with Mr 13 and I on 2018 Rossignol Experience 84s (170 and 186) and wife on Experience 88s (174). Mr 11 is on some Elan6 @126 as well. They are in very good nick with Ross and Cam providing excellent fitting services.

    Falls allows 5 of 7 pass holders to ski from 3-5 on the day of arrival and we took them up on the offer. A quick visit to the ticket counter to pick up cards and get our photos taken. Apparently they use an iPad that pops your photo as you scan to prevent fraud.

    Once at the top we started left to right riding Panorama, Drovers, Highway 83 and Main Street, then doubling up on Drovers. Snow was hard packed with a fine layer of powder on top. Not anything like the ice hell I’d been led to believe by successive Aussies I met in Japan each year. The weather was cold and the wind was quite fierce at times, slowing the lifts to a crawl for most of our journeys.




    Our friends in Singapore warned us of the 4.30pm bloodbath that is Wombats Ramble after lessons finish. She wasn’t wrong. I’ve seen less collisions in a demolition derby. Definitely a case of steady as she goes and head on a swivel.

    We are now back in the lodge lounge, downing an iced cold Kilkenny from the Cock & Bull while we wait for dinner at 7. Not a bad day by all accounts.
     
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  33. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Also. Aussie internet speeds are the worst. Uploading those pictures was only marginally faster than the First chair at Madarao. How do you all survive?
     
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  34. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    LOLz
     
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  35. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Really glad you’ve had a good day.

    Keep those pics coming!
     
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  36. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us

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    Stockholm Syndrome
     
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  37. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Welcome to Australia. :) You are continuing an old tradition of Australia luring skiers from tropical Asia to our snowfields.

    Although this 85 year old tourism poster in Dutch claiming "only 12 days from Java" is a bit out of date.

    [​IMG]
     
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  38. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Falls Creek has particularly bad internet. It seems to be provisioned to meet summer average load, not winter peak. The nbn won't help us either: the idiots think satellite will suffice :headbang: :tany:
     
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  39. N0frilz

    N0frilz Hard Yards

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    If only you were here a day ago you’d have seen some normal Australian conditions.

    Wait for a melt freeze cycle and you’ll get the icey bullet proof hard pack
     
  40. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    But I don’t want to! I like being pleasantly surprised!
     
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  41. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Have a great time. Sorry you are not seeing the place at its best.
    Compared to other resorts it has a pretty relaxed and friendly vibe. This may not be as evident when there are too many people on too few runs. Barry is renowned as a great host, enjoy your stay.
     
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  42. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don’t get me wrong! It’s been nothing but wonderful so far. Can’t rate a Pretty Valley high enough. It’s like we are already part of the family.

    And we had a great time this afternoon on piste. Early winter skiing is hit or miss regardless of where you are in the world. Snow under the planks!
     
  43. Scott No Mates Ver 1.1

    Scott No Mates Ver 1.1 Addicted

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    A little bird tells me that a private fibre service will be run up to FC running on Telstra 300MB fibre.
     
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  44. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    1 July 2019 - Day 2 - a good day

    The family awoke at about 6.45 with the usual accusations of snoring that comes with sharing a room. I maintain that everyone else are riding 2stroke lawnmowers all night while I am as silent as a church mouse. They all have a different and obviously wrong opinion. The Pretty Valley Lodge beds were great. Nice mattress, great pillows and a warm enough blanket. Not a bad view from the window too.


    Breakfast was a marvellous spread, buffet style, with eggs, bacon, sausages, and veggies along with cereals, toast and fruits. 5 or 6 different juices and plenty of hot coffee to wake us all up. I can’t recall who said I might gain weight here, but they weren’t wrong!



    With early tracks the goal we jumped on the lift at 8.25am and started making our way through the open runs. Drovers and Nastar were a highlight early on, with Main Street super icy and fast as hell. I don’t think you could ever get bored of seeing that lake.


    Nastar was skiing well in the morning sun.


    We could hear the snow guns over at Scott’s for most of the morning so I’m hopeful they will open up tomorrow or Thursday.

    I couldn’t quite capture the snow clouds coming from over there. Actually. I probably could have but I only remembered to pull my phone out on the lift so always missed the moment.



    At around 9.30 we noticed that Rudi’s, Days end and Broadway were open. Junction was marginally covered and by 11.30 there was a lot of dirt and road showing through.




    Love the snow covered Australian trees.




    We took a drinks break at Cloud9 mid morning as the slopes hit their peak crowds with a few queues filling the roped areas.


    This was especially true at Halley’s with all the snow players transiting up.


    Lunch back at the lodge was again great, with 4 types of pizza, salads, cold meats and fresh breads. The pumpkin soup was a bit of a hit, even for this non soup loving guy.



    After lunch we headed back up but the mist started forming and by 3pm it had got noticeably colder.



    Unfortunately we also had to help out with a young girl who was showing signs of concussion after a heavy head hit on Main Street. The hard surface did her no favours even wearing a helmet. Snow patrol quickly sorted it, but I hope she’s ok.

    They boys decided to head back to the room early so we had a couple of great runs by ourselves before visibility and cold decided we were done.

    On the way back we stopped in to the shop next to the post office to stock up on Australian sweets that we have been missing in Singapore. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on chocolates before!

    We are now sipping mongrel port from the Cock and Bull ($2 for 60ml. Bargain!) as we wait for what will no doubt be another spectacular dinner. Will be hard to top the Duck leg and roast veggies from last night.


    The one thing we are really missing from our Japanese experiences is the nightly onsen. A shower after skiing just isn’t the same for tired muscles. Unfortunately the Lodge’s heated pool and spas are not working at the moment. I think you could make a bit of money running an onsen in one of the basements here!
     
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  45. chriscross

    chriscross One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Really good, detailed report, thanks. Glad you are enjoying FC despite less than perfect conditions. It is a beautiful place. Understand about the onsens, though.
     
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  46. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    yeah I know about that but initially it will only be more larger accom places that can afford the premium service
     
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  47. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    2 July - Day 3 - The Mist

    Even with a rowdy group of boys outside the window at midnight, we all managed a very good night’s sleep here in Pretty Valley Lodge. We all awoke pretty naturally around 6.45am to an unsurprisingly similar view out the window. No snow (other than the brilliant snowmaking) fell last night.



    A couple of us woke up with blocked noses and slight headaches. Pretty normal for the abrupt climate shift from Singapore, and nothing a Sudafed and a big bottle of water couldn’t fix. I did find something we got from Japan last time too. I have no idea what it is though. Maybe paracetamol or ibuprofen?



    Breakfast spread at the lodge was top notch again with the most delicious pan of mushrooms we’ve had in a while. But it was eaten quickly to get up to the top early and snag some tracks before the hordes arrived. This guy was waiting for us on one of the tables. Hope his expression wasn’t a forewarning of the day!



    We were on Halley’s by 8.25 and were greeted with an early mist that set the tone for the day.


    This morning we started a rotation of choices for next run, with Mr 11 wanting to get an early Wombats in and Mr 13 choosing his perennial favourite, Drovers. Both skied very well. Fast and crisp.

    The wife and I rounded off the first 4 runs with Nastar and Highway 83 as the mist started burning off.



    It was pretty cold at this point, with Mr 13’s signature escaping curl, taking on the iced steel grey look.



    We then did a couple of runs down to the Village Bowl and Eagles with the tracks looking quite worse for wear, especially near the top as you leave cloud 9. These signs indicating just how rough some of the sections had become.





    We stopped in at Cloud 9 for a wallet punishing mid morning snack of waffles ($10 a pop!), caramel slice and Portuguese Tart and hot drinks ($6 each minimum). After which the low cloud started forming and the omnipresent wind started picking up.

    Smiles all round though as we kept getting in some great turns.




    The lake even made a brief appearance on one of the runs!


    Just before lunch the visibility really started dropping.



    After lunch at the lodge the boys decided to stay in with some iPad time so the parents got a luxurious few hours together. The cloud really started coming in and it even lightly rained a few times.





    With cold fingers we tried finding somewhere different to warm up but were thwarted at every turn (closed or full) so ended up back at Cloud 9 yet again for some Tea and Hot chocolate.



    All in all not a bad day with 11 runs open.

     
  48. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    And to top it all off. The dinner tonight was a whole rib roast with mash and veggies.



    This was included in the standard rates. I thought it was an outstanding package just with 3 meals a day and ski hire included.

    Baz is a legend. Can’t recommend Pretty Valley Lodge enough.
     
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  49. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    3 July 2019 - Day 4 - visibility for miles.

    Falls is beautiful as the sun comes up. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the sight of dawn breaking over snowy Australian mountains.



    After a bit of grumbling of sore muscles (curse the lack of onsens!) we had another outstanding breakfast before making haste to the first non-special people with epic passes lift of the day.



    With the temperatures low all night there was a lingering mist for the first few runs. And oh how they were crisp and fast. Wombats in particular was as slippery as an ice rink with some beginner lessons having a difficult time navigating some of the turns. We unfortunately saw the snow patrol sled out a few times as well.



    But the early bird catches the worm and we had the runs to ourselves and a few other dedicated folk for a good hour before the masses started appearing.



    And appear they did!





    We still found ways to have fun though.



    Still the blue terrain off in the distance remains closed. They are adding more and more snow though so our fingers remain crossed.



    I sent a few messages to the falls insta account but no replies as to when it will become available.

    We stopped in for morning tea at the Blue Brumby at the base of Towers which I think is under new ownership. Coffee was solid and not too exorbitant, and the slices and donuts definitely hit the spot!






    Lunch was back at pretty valley and included beef ribs in bbq sauce, fish and chips, and the usual sandwiches and salads. Yum!

    After lunch we basically repeated the morning. The path down to Eagles is looking very worse for wear, and they will either run the guns along it or close it tomorrow. Just too many dirt patches to scrape some cover over.

    It did fine up considerably, with blue sky’s and softer runs filling an enjoyable afternoon.





    All in all a fun day.



    One negative point. They had closed off Nastar’s Race Course for the entire day, only opening it after 3pm. This was for some sort of school or class group that literally used it for a total of 90 minutes the whole day. When there is this few runs open, taking even one out of action is a bit of a rude call.
     
  50. Becky

    Becky Hard Yards

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    Love this thread! I am really enjoying your daily updates. Am coming to FC with the family tomorrow and was wondering what to expect as we don’t normally come this early in the season. Even though terrain is limited, am still super excited, we just love FC!
     
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